Ricotta Pecan Coffee Cake

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Ricotta Pecan Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/ 2 cup butter, softened

3/ 4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

 

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/ 2 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

 

1/ 2 cup sweetened and salted whole pecans

Powdered sugar

 

  • Grease lightly the bottoms of 2 8-inch baking pans, then line with parchment paper.
  • Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and ricotta cheese. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and continue beating until well blended. Batter will be thick.
  • Pour 1/ 2 of the batter into lined baking pans equally and evenly.
  • Combine the brown sugar, chopped pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle 1/ 2 of the topping over the top of the cake batter. Repeat another layer of batter and topping.
  • Lastly, press lightly the sweetened and salted whole pecans on top.
  • Refrigerator uncovered for 1 hour.
  • Oven to 350 degrees. Bake cakes for 40 to 50 minutes. Test center with a toothpick for doneness. Cool completely.
  • Optional – Before serving, sprinkle top with powdered sugar for decoration.  
  • ENJOY! – Best coffee cake with ricotta cheese ever!

This recipe came about because of two reasons. Reason number one, an unexpected guest was coming on Sunday for coffee at around 11:30 am and it was already 9:00 am. Reason number two, I found all of the ingredients handy in my refrigerator including just the right amount of ricotta needed. The topping of sweetened and salted whole pecans was a total last minute thought that turned out to be a great addition. Sometimes you have to be quick on your feet when it comes to entertaining at the last minute. I am always up to the challenge of whipping up something, even if it isn’t all homemade.

Years ago, my husband mentioned to me, last minute, that he invited some of his family over for dinner because they would happen to be in our neighborhood, in a few hours. I had no idea what I would serve; then like a drill sergeant, I started barking commands to the family. To my husband, “Get the dining room table pulled out and set up the room so I can serve buffet style.” To my son, who was driving at the time, “I need you to go to Price Club and buy two bags of frozen stuffed shells and one bag of frozen ready made meatballs.” There is always homemade spaghetti sauce in my freezer and I had everything to make a salad. The menu for dinner for about 15 people altogether was two trays of stuffed shells, a pot of meatballs in sauce, a tray of salad and Italian bread. When the family arrived for dinner, it was as if a tornado had touched down in my house and whipped up all the food into a cyclone and took it away. They came, they ate, they left. Nothing but a few meatballs at the bottom of a pot of sauce was left standing. When you use your own homemade sauce, everything you serve with it tastes ten times better. Don’t sweat the small stuff, so what if I didn’t make an elaborate dinner, I made dinner and in a short amount of time no less. That is what is important at the end of the day. Dinner was served.

Mangia, and the whole world Mangias with you!

Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts Risotto

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1/2 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
16 ounces chicken broth
1/4 white wine

Romano cheese grated

1. Remove the outer leaves and stems of the Brussels sprouts, rinse with water and cut in half (If very large Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters), set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Gently put the Brussels sprouts into the boiling chicken broth. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. With a small strainer, remove the
Brussels sprouts to a bowl and set aside. Keep the chicken broth to use when preparing the risotto.
3. In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and onion, saute until tender. Add the pancetta and cook a few minutes more, until golden. Add the Arborio rice to the pan and cook until
lightly toasted, continuously stirring while cooking. Add the white wine and continue cooking until the wine is absorbed.
4. With a ladle, spoon the chicken broth in the pan one ladle at a time until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladle of chicken broth. Continue Until you have the last ladle of
chicken broth to add, then put the Brussels sprouts in the pan at the same time as the last ladle of chicken broth. Cook until rice is al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. At this time taste the risotto, if a bit too hard, cook a few more minutes until more tender.
6. Serve immediately, garnishing with grated Romano cheese on top.
7. ENJOY! – “Risotto” is the new rice!

This recipe is one that originally came to me from an email newsletter I subscribe to called Sunday Pasta, which sends different recipes for Sunday dinner.
The website is garrubbo.com.

The combination of Brussels sprouts and pancetta in risotto piqued my interest enough to attempt to prepare this recipe. But the recipe was for twice the amount then I wanted to make, so I took the liberty of adjusting the ingredient amounts to half. My preference was to use chicken broth and Romano cheese in my version of the recipe and I eliminated the pepper.

The traditional Sunday dinner is disappearing from my own family’s dinners. Sunday dinner was sacred at one time. Dinner time was late afternoon, no one played with their cell phones and the meal would last for 3 hours. Whether dinner was at home or at an Italian restaurant it was never rushed. Just a few weeks ago, I tried to plan for my kids and grandkids to come to a Sunday dinner at our house in the upcoming weeks. Well, Sunday will not work out because of prior commitments, but Saturday will work. At this point, I am thrilled to have the family for dinner no matter what day of the week it is. Times are different but the value of sitting down to a meal together with generations of family remains the same. Of course, Sunday Pasta will be served!

QUICHE LORRAINE

 

2 9-inch deep dish piecrusts

3/ 4 cup Durkee French Fried onions

1 lb. package bacon, cooked crispy

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup half and half

9 eggs

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1 tablespoon margarine, softened

 

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  1. Oven 425 degrees
  2. Cook bacon until crispy. Drain well on dish lined with paper towels. When bacon is completely cooled, cut into small pieces. Place bacon pieces in a bowl.
  3. Pierce piecrusts with a fork sporadically around sides and bottom of crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
  4. Spread softened margarine in the bottom and sides of the cooled piecrusts with a pastry brush.
  5. In the bacon bowl, add the French fried onions and 1 cup of Swiss cheese. Toss and mix together. Split the mixture between the two piecrusts evenly.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with half and half and 1/ 2 cup of the heavy cream. Pour egg mixture over bacon/onion/Swiss cheese mixture in piecrusts. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of Swiss cheese over the top of each quiche.
  7. Pour the other 1/ 2 cup of heavy cream over the cheese on both quiches.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven to 325 degrees and continue cooking for 35-45 minutes longer.
  9. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.
  10. ENJOY – Bacon, Onions and Swiss Cheese together, Oh my!

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, “Nick tells Gatsby, “You can’t repeat the past,” and Gatsby replies, “Why of course you can.”

No truer words were spoken that reflected a recent trip down memory lane with my closest friends, Linda and Julianne from high school.

Linda, Julianne and I reconnected here in New York this summer. It was a planned “girls” long weekend.   The girls would be staying at my home for a few nights.  We would be very busy during the daytime, so, I decided to prepare dishes ahead of time to serve.  This Quiche Lorraine was served for breakfast but it goes great as a lunch dish served with salad on the side.  Either way, your friends will love it as much as mine did!

Julianne lives in New Mexico, Linda in Connecticut and I in New York. We decided to be tourists in New York City by going on a tour bus and boat ride around Manhattan. As luck would have it, or should I say unluckily, all our pre-made plans got changed.   The tour bus and boat ride fell through. Here we were stranded just a few blocks from the Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is FREE. One of the best attractions New York City has to offer. Turns out that this is the second time Linda, Julianne and I went on the Staten Island Ferry together. The first time was our high school senior prom. Tradition in those days for prom night was to end the evening, early morning with a ride on the Staten Island Ferry and then home, which we did.

When I was preparing for Linda and Julianne to stay at my home, I went searching for pictures from high school of the three of us together. Lo and behold I found one of those old photo booth pictures that came on a strip of four, of the three of us on during our senior day trip to Rye Playland.  The night before Julianne was to leave to return to New Mexico, we decided to go back to Rye Playland. We were determined to recreate our photo booth memory. Sure enough, Playland still had a photo booth, which we squeezed into to recreate our moment in time.

Can you repeat the past? Yes, you can with a lot of laughs and good friends that are up for anything. The way I see it, it was fun in the first place, and repeating those moments again can only be better and even more memorable the second time around!

Julianne and Linda, thanks for the memories, then and now,

 

Then and Now

Somebody Else’s Dad – Charlie’s Artichokes

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This original recipe Charlie got from his son Aaron

3 or 4 pkgs of Frozen Artichoke hearts (I used Birds Eye)

Burrata cheese (I like the imported Italian. He didn’t specify)

Green & Purple Basil (Purple is hard to find)

  1.  Deep fry artichokes in oil (I used olive oil) until kind of crispy on the edges (You don’t have to thaw them first). Dry artichokes on paper towels and then salt them.
  2. Top the burrata with the artichokes and rough chopped fresh basil
  3. Drizzle basil oil on top of all. (I used high quality EVOO).  (To make the basil oil – blanch a good amount of basil for 15 seconds. Ice flash it. Let it dry and then blend with olive oil in a food processor.)
  4. Garnish with crunchy sea salt on top.

 

Charlie’s recipe

3 cans whole large artichokes drained & dried very well on paper towels. (water & oil don’t mix!)

(I used canned whole artichokes in water. DO NOT use the marinated artichokes that come in a jar.

They won’t work in this recipe.)

2 pkgs imported burrata.

(Belgioso makes a good domestic one that comes in a larger size so 1 of them is good)

Fresh basil – chiffonade cut

Olive oil for frying

Good Olive oil for drizzling

Fleur de sel or sea salt or kosher salt. Not regular table salt.

Fresh ground pepper

 

  1. Fill a cast iron skillet with approximately 1/2″ of olive oil. Heat olive oil until smoke point. (I didthis on my outdoor grill. It keeps the splattering out of the kitchen)
  2. Add the artichokes to the hot oil in a single layer. Deep fry until crispy on the edges. I used 2skillets so you will need to fry in batches if you only have one. Drain well on paper towels.
  3. Arrange artichokes on a platter. Top with hunks of burrata. Add the chiffonade cut basil.  Drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt to taste. Fresh ground pepper to taste.
  4. That’s it. Enjoy.
  5. Note: Aaron called for the artichokes on top of the burrata.  I put the burrata on top of the artichokes. It looks better IMHO.
  6. Note 2: You could easily add a drizzle of balsamic too but I did not.

 

Good friends  like Charlie and Laurie are hard to come by, so we consider ourselves twice blessed to have them as neighbors too!

Our friendship began in 1983 when we purchased our homes whose back yards are diagonally across from one another.  We are only separated by a small path that I hope will never be closed as long as we both shall live.  As our new mortgages began, so did living on tight budgets.  My two children did not have a swing/play set in our yard but Laurie and Charlie’s yard, had one of those huge wooden play gyms.  With persistent persuasion I convinced my son to go down to Laurie and Charlie’s yard and meet their children and possibly be invited to use their play set.  It worked and my children enjoyed their play gym for years.  With a house that is situated on a cul-de-sac street, Laurie and Charlie’s street was perfect for our mutual children’s sports and games, unlike my busy street.  All of their children are grown and so have ours, and the play set is gone from their yard, but Laurie, Charlie, Tom and I still get together as often as we can, whether with a group of friends or just the four of us.

During our marriages Tom and Charlie cooked on occasion, also did most of the grilling.  Laurie and I basically prepared the weekly meals and all the holiday dinners while raising our families.  Somewhere along the line, our roles switched.  As our children got older and more independent, the moms moved away from the kitchen and the husbands moved in.  My husband now usually prepares dinner every week night and I cook more on the weekends.  Along the way, Charlie got very into wines.  He built a wine cellar in his house and start exploring the pairing of foods with certain wines.  He gradually progressed into cooking at a more advance level.  Now there is no stopping him!  I bought my husband one year an espresso 2 tier old fashion coffee pot for use on the stove.  Charlie got himself a commercial equivalent huge espresso machine.  I remember one occasion when I was at their home for a meal and was generously pouring balsamic vinegar over my salad, only to hear that it was very good aged Italian balsamic vinegar that cost around $40.00 a bottle.  My balsamic vinegar comes in a 2 pack from Costco and is very economical.  Tom and I get to enjoy being treated to delicious meals at their home all the time.

The first time Charlie prepared this artichoke dish was for a group of us at his home on New Year’s Eve.  Everyone loved it.  Charlie used his son, Aaron’s, recipe that evening.  Charlie again made it was for me when he and Laurie came to our house for an intimate dinner with just the four of us.  Charlie made it a bit different, but I didn’t’ notice since it was still amazing.  When I asked for the recipe and if I could put it on “Somebody’s Mom”, Charlie was very enthusiastic.  As I was reading his recipe, I came across the cooking term chiffonade cut. While I assumed it had to do with cutting the basil leaves, I still had to look it up. Charlie you are definitely above and beyond me with culinary skills and I want you to know how much I appreciate and respect it.

Charlie your are a neighbor, friend and chef all rolled it to one! We support you in all your cooking adventures and are literally right behind you reaping all the benefits!

Somebody Else’s Mom – Lorraine’s Chicken

lorraine chicken 2

Lorraine’s recipe –

Chicken cutlets
Mozzarella cut in slices
College Inn Chicken Broth
Flavored bread crumbs
Jar garlic
Butter

Bread cutlets and place a slice of mozzarella on cutlet and roll it.
In a pan saute tsp of garlic and 3/4 stick of butter. Add can of chicken broth and cook for 5 minutes.
Add mixture to pan of cutlets. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Uncover for
the last 10-15 minutes.

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My recipe of Lorraine’s recipe after I prepared it at home –

DSC04779

4 large boneless chicken breasts
8 to 12 ounces of mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
chicken broth, 14 ounce can or homemade
Italian bread crumbs
1 to 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic
4 to 8 tablespoons butter

1. Slice chicken breasts very thin, try to get 3 cutlets out of one large breast.
2. Dredge chicken cutlets in egg and then bread crumbs, set aside.
3. Slice mozzarella into even slices per chicken cutlets, (ex., if you have 13 cutlets, cut mozzarella
into 13 slices). Place one slice of mozzarella onto a breaded cutlet and roll. Place the cutlets
into a 9 x 13 pan to fit tightly.
5. Oven to 400 degrees.
6. In a medium frying pan, add 6 tablespoons butter. Add minced garlic to butter and sauté. When
garlic tender, add chicken broth and cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through.
7. Pour garlic chicken broth mixture over cutlets in pan.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook 15 minutes more.
9. Serve immediately, over pasta or on the side. Serves 8.
10. ENJOY – Chicken and cheese – please!

We met my husband’s cousin, Ricky, and his wife, Lorraine, way back in the day when Tom and I got married over 30 years ago.  Lorraine, Ricky, and their daughter, Melissa, lived together in a two family house in Rockland County with Lorraine’s parents. I always envied and admired their lifestyle; it was all about family. They lived side by side, sharing meals and laughter, all reminiscent of my own childhood in a two family house with my aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandmother. When Tom and I visited, we would join her mom’s dinner table, seated amongst several generations of family.

Fast forward to the present, and the family ties and traditions still hold fast. Lorraine and Ricky now live in a two family house with their daughters, Jennifer, and Amanda and her family. We recently celebrated their granddaughter, Savannah’s, first birthday party with them, and shared a meal and laughter with their extended family. The birthday party was in the backyard, and home cooked dishes were served, including this recipe from Lorraine. The envy and admiration of this close knit family living arrangement still tugs at my heartstrings. To have your children and grandchildren living in the same house together is a very special blessing.  Lorraine is a cook’s cook. Some of the best cooks I know don’t always have a recipe in front of them. They are artists! I believe that you can take liberties with anyone’s recipe and make it your own to suite you/your family’s specific tastes, all without insulting a good cook such as Lorraine.

When I prepared her chicken dish, I cut the butter amount to 4 tablespoons, instead of her suggestion of 6 tablespoons, but then I felt her chicken was juicer and mine could have been a bit more moist, but it was still delicious. In retrospect, I should have paid more attention to Lorraine’s recipe in the first place when it came to the butter, and I will the next time I prepare it. As far as the jarred garlic was concerned, I questioned using it rather than using fresh garlic. Lorraine said she only uses the jarred garlic for this recipe, and fresh garlic for everything else. Go figure…..but that was a good enough answer for me, and jarred garlic it is.

Looking forward to the next family gathering and some home cooking at Ricky and Lorraine’s…..BIG HINT if you are reading this, Lorraine)!

Somebody Else’s Mom – Linda’s Cheesy Potatoes

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2 lb frozen bag cubed potatoes
1/ 2 cup butter
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Mix first 7 ingredients together well in an oven casserole 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle
the other 4 ounces of Cheddar cheese over the top of the potatoes.
2. Oven 350 degrees.
3. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours or untl bubbly and browned. Serves 10 to 12.
4. ENJOY – Great for Brunch or Lunch!

A new tradition was established for my family when my daughter, Marisa, married and moved to Buffalo four years ago. Easter weekend would be celebrated at her home, packed with family, cats, dogs, and a lotta love! In addition, we also get to enjoy her mother-in-law Linda’s special Easter brunch over at her home.

Every year our crew is late and the last to arrive. This year we were early and the first to arrive! We think Linda fooled us by telling us to be there an hour earlier than usual; it worked. As all our hungry eyes checked out the buffet brunch, we spotted something amiss: no sign of Linda’s famous, to-die-for Cheesy Potatoes. Panic began to set in and Mia, my daughter, whispered to me, “Where are the Cheesy Potatoes?” Not one to hold back, the words escaped from my lips “Linda, did you make your Cheesy Potatoes?” To our delight and relief, she had, in fact, made two pans. I swear there was a bit of a stampede towards those Cheesy Potatoes. I managed to squeeze in a picture of them before they disappeared – sorry your eyes were closed Linda!

Linda gave me the recipe, which I tweaked a little as I always like to do with recipes. A few nights ago, I had company for dinner, and my slightly revised version of the recipe is listed below.

All I know is when I offered to give my friends some Cheesy Potatoes to take home, they were thrilled, but my husband was a bit freaked out until he realized there was plenty left over for him to enjoy again.

Cheesy Potatoes are great for holidays or any day, especially when entertaining your extended family. Thanks Linda, we appreciate you and your Cheesy Potatoes!

Revised Cheesy Potatoes

2 lb frozen bag cubed potatoes
3 baked potatoes, cubed
1/4 onion chopped
5 tablespoons butter
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
1 cup sour cream
10 ounces milk
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Mix first 9 ingredients together well in an oven casserole 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle
the other 4 ounces of Cheddar cheese over the top of the potatoes.
2. Oven 350 degrees.
3. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours or untl bubbly and browned. Serves 10 to 12.

(I happened to have had leftover baked potatoes, which I peeled and cubed and added to the dish. I cut back the butter and it was fine and added 1/4 onion, chopped which I think enhanced the flavor just enough. I increased the milk a bit because of the added baked potatoes and the last thing I did was not put
any salt in but put pepper in. Which was a mistake because everyone agreed it needed salt. Otherwise, my daughter finished the leftovers the next day and
my husband didn’t get any after all!)

Swiss Almond Cheese Spread

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1 8-ounce whipped cream cheese, softened
6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
1/ 3 cup mayonnaise
1/ 4 cup scallions or onion, chopped
1/ 8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/ 8 teaspoon pepper
1/ 3 cup almonds, sliced and toasted

1. Oven 350 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well.
3. Spread Swiss cheese mixture into a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish.
4. Bake 8 minutes. Stir. Bake for 8 more minutes. Serve hot with crackers, chips or cut carrots and celery.
5. ENJOY – Almondy Swiss goodness!